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    December 08, 2006

    Damien Martyn retirement creates selection headache

    Damien Martyn, who will always remain one of the several bones of contention between Ganesh and me in terms of our rating of his batting (I don't think highly of him, while Ganesh drools over his batting!), announced a shock decision to retire from international and domestic cricket with immediate effect.

    He suffered a tendonitis injury before the Brisbane test and scores of 29, 11 & 5 in a series where other Aussie batsmen (except Hayden) have scored runs, meant that his place was probably up for grabs. Martyn won't thus be able to finish off his career at his home ground, the WACA at Perth.

    Martyn's been a scourge of India for a while, especially in the last 2-3 years. He played a superb hand in the 2003 World Cup final. In 2004 when Australia toured India, after a couple of failures early on, he figured out that committing himself to front-foot play was an invitation to disaster with Kumble and Harbhajan bowling well in tandem. He then began to play the ball as late as possible, and then turned the series around for himself and his team, first with a huge stand with Gillespie at Chepauk and then nearly scoring two centuries at Nagpur. He said that watching Tendulkar bat in 2001 motivated him to bat the way he did in 2004 in India!

    But these performances against India aren't obviously why I don't rate him too highly. He may have been Mark Waugh II, but there was something about him which kept convincing me that far too often, if the heat was on, he wasn't going to turn up. Perhaps I was subconsciously affected by the way he invariably bats in a shareware cricket game I play occasionally. Whenever I picked him, his batting was totally in contrast to what the situation warranted - if Australia needed quick runs with 5 overs in hand, he'd make a priceless 12(17). If Australia were 30/3 and needed to bat out 50 overs, he'd make a priceless 17(17). I can't recollect games of the top of my head when he did similar things in real life, but I'm certain he did. In that respect, I place him on a similar pedestal as Jacques Kallis, who does that sort of thing too often for an ICC Player of the Year!

    Martyn was among the casualties after Australia's loss in last summer's Ashes series, but was brought back against South Africa.

    But the selection headache I referred to has nothing to do with the Ashes. Martyn's retirement now means that the middle-order in the All-Star book cricket XI looks quite solid. There're 2 good openers, 3 good top-order batsmen, 2 good all-rounders, 1 very good keeper, a couple of medium pacers and one genuine quick. Like I said earlier, the side lacks a quality spinner though.

    My XI would now read (in batting order): Mark Richardson, Michael Slater, Nasser Hussain, Damien Martyn, Graham Thorpe, Chris Cairns, Heath Streak (c), Phil DeFreitas, Jack Russell (wk), Lucy Pearson and Allan Donald. Venkatesh Prasad narrowly misses out because of Lucy Pearson's superior fielding skills. Perhaps Martyn pushed Venkatesh Prasad off the squad list :)

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 6:14 PM |
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